Myanmar military apparently pardons hate preachers


More than 23,000 detainees are released in Myanmar. Among them probably also the monk Wirathu, head of an ultra-nationalist movement. Observers suspect that space should be made for demonstrators.

The Myanmar military has released more than 23,000 prisoners from prison or significantly reduced their sentences. The head of the junta, General Min Aung Hlaing, has signed an order to this effect.

55 imprisoned foreigners should also be released, wrote the newspaper “The Irrawaddy” on Twitter on Friday. In addition, it is reportedly likely that the prominent Buddhist hate preacher Wirathu is among those pardoned.

Wirathu is considered to be the head of an ultra-nationalist movement. The judicial authorities had accused him of “rioting”. The monk had been raising the mood against Muslims in the predominantly Buddhist country for years and was also seen as a critic of the government of the now disempowered Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi.

Place in prison for protesters?

Observers believe that with the pardons the military wants to make room to arrest more political opponents and demonstrators. According to the human rights organization AAPP, at least 220 people have been arrested since the coup on the night of February 1, including politicians, members of the electoral commission, political activists, monks and demonstrators. Suu Kyi is said to be under house arrest.

How did the military coup in Myanmar come about? In Myanmar, the military took control in early February and overthrew the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The official reason should have been – unproven – allegations of electoral fraud in the November election, which the party of the former freedom icon Suu Kyi had won again by a huge margin. The military staged a coup on the very day the newly elected parliament was due to meet. Observers believe that the military wanted to counteract Suu Kyi’s growing popularity in the country in particular. Your victory in the election was downright landslide. The 75-year-old, who has been the de facto head of government since 2015, has repeatedly called for constitutional changes. Even before the coup, the military had a strong position in Myanmar. Several important ministerial posts were filled by the army.

At least six shots were fired during the protests when the police tried to break them up. This is shown by video recordings from the city of Mawlamyine, which “Radio Free Asia” posted on Facebook on Friday. The pictures show how the police attack one of the demonstrators. Bullets were thrown at the police before the shots were fired.

Protests against the military coup have been going on in Myanmar for days. The demonstrators are demanding, among other things, the release of the disempowered de facto head of government Aung San Suu Kyi. Your party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), clearly won the November parliamentary elections. The military does not recognize this, however, and put in place on February 1st – the day on which the newly elected parliament should have met for its first session.

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